We ask parents: Should kids go back to school in September?

Backpack And Mask

These are difficult times for everyone. As parents and teachers, many of us are wondering what the future of education will look like, as we navigate the ever-changing health concerns we’re all facing.

We asked Granite State parents and educators, and a high school student, if they think students should return to in-person schooling in the fall.

No

I’m homeschooling

“I just made the choice to get the official homeschool approval. I’ve done it before so I am lucky to know what’s ahead if I do. If things get back to normal, I will enroll them again.”
– Stephanie P., Nashua

We can’t force ‘life as normal’

Cadyhickman“As an educator, I feel districts need to radically strategize for the fall if in-person classes are going to be held. Short answer: at face value, no. School should not run as usual. Long answer: I work with a lot of parents and educators. Virtual lessons being mandatory is not viable for parents. It’s difficult for kids and educators. At the same time, the longer we force “life as normal,” the further we will push the virus. It’s also unfair to subject teachers to a pandemic, to school shootings, all while buying their own supplies, without ever truly bringing them into the conversation. I don’t believe in sacrificing education or the safety of teachers. And I think the potential increase in spending is worth that, for the sake of the kids, the parents, the teachers.”
– Cady H., Merrimack

A terrible choice

“I want my kids to be safe. I don’t think it will be safe to open schools in September. But I cannot homeschool my kids and work full time. As a single parent, I cannot quit my job. As the mother of a kid with an IEP, I am (no) substitute for the team of amazing people he had at his school, who were keeping him on a good path. When they say ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ I absolutely need that village. I don’t want my kids to get sick. I don’t want to lose my job. How (terrible) that those are the two things I’m probably going to have to choose between.”
– Rachel C., Nashua

We need social distancing

“We need to find a balance between providing the best education we can for kids, while also protecting them and their families, and the staff and their families. In my mind, that cannot include returning to a normal, full-attendance school day. We need to reduce the number of people in the rooms and halls, and need to allow for the best social distancing we can create.”
– Laura M., Merrimack

Safety first

Sandybucknam“No. No matter how safe or unsafe it is for kids, schools weren’t made for social distancing and every adult in the building will be exposed to a deadly disease that they’ll spread to all of their family and friends. Safety over stupidity!”
– Sandy B., Hudson

Not worth undoing all the work

“I’ve been avoiding thinking about where I stand on this issue; it’s overwhelming. My kid would be in preschool, so asking a room of 12-15 preschoolers to wear masks and practice good hand-washing and social distancing seems unlikely. That being said, my child was thriving with the structure of school, with amazing teachers, and being around friends his age. But it’s not worth undoing all the work we’ve done to bring transmission of this virus down. We’re asking our teachers to expose themselves to the virus, while taking on another level of protecting their students. And while I understand that some parents cannot afford to stay home, or are simply burnt out on virtual learning, it feels irresponsible to throw all these kids and staff back into a situation that could cause even more cases that would spread to families and our community.”
– Sophie L., Merrimack

Undecided

I can’t do my job from a safe distance

“As a special education paraprofessional, I feel very invisible in this whole back-to-school debate. I love my job, I know that what I do is important to the structure of the school, and I feel valued by the teachers and staff I work with. The problem is that the only two ways I can do my job are remotely or unsafely. In person, I need to be right next to my students – working on their curriculum one-on-one, physically helping them use technology, sometimes assisting with close-contact wheelchair transfers, messy food situations, and various bodily fluids. I understand more burden falls on the parents of these children. It is a very complicated issue, but I would like more people to be talking about the one-on-one staff members who are not paid very much and simply cannot do their jobs from a safe distance.”
– Lauren F., Nashua

Safety vs. structure

“I’m on the fence. My child needs the structure of school even though he thinks he doesn’t. With that said, he also has a 504, and sometimes needs that little extra help. I also am more worried about how the school plans to open and keep up with CDC guidelines. I worry about the kids not taking it seriously. The anxiety of it all is overwhelming!”
– Shanin L., Nashua

No good option

“Where does the money come from to hire all of these other teachers and rent all of these extra spaces? School budgets everywhere are stretched to the absolute limit. And with a ton of people out of work because of the pandemic, we just can’t raise taxes any more. The money simply isn’t there unless the government gives each district an enormous grant, and I don’t see that happening with an administration that insists it’s safe for our kids to go back to school. Even if we could pay for it all, where do these extra staff members come from? It’s not like there are a ton of unemployed certified teachers just walking around New Hampshire. I agree that the situation is extremely difficult. There is, possibly, no safe option that is actually realistic. That’s the mess we find ourselves in.”
– Melissa R., Windham

No easy answers

“I feel grateful that the SAU where we live has formed a task force on reopening with subcommittees that are really listening to everyone. There are a few “no way; not sending my kid no matter what” parents, a few “I’m dropping my kid off on the first day of school no matter what” parents, and there are a whole bunch of us in the middle.

We are worried about our kids’ social, emotional, and academic health while not attending school in person, but we are just as concerned with their physical health and the risk of exposure to the virus.

My kid is an extrovert and is really struggling with the isolation of social distancing. I’d love nothing more than for him to go to school this fall. He didn’t enjoy remote learning, and if he doesn’t start the school year in the classroom, I fear his academics will take a big hit. However, he has asthma. As much as I worry about his health, I am just as concerned about him losing a friend to this virus. He would hurt from a loss like that for the rest of his life. No easy answers here. The only thing I know for absolute certain is that I am extremely grateful that I am not a Superintendent.“
– Jenn M., Amherst

Yes

Socialization is important

Maryellenstevenson“Want? Yes. Particularly (because mine is) an only child, and socialization is very important for him. However, if we don’t feel they have put enough precautions in place or if COVID numbers start to go back up, we wouldn’t hesitate to homeschool. He did very well with remote learning and his safety always comes first.”
– MaryEllen S., Manchester

Herd immunity

“Absolutely. Children are the most resistant to this virus and are the cornerstone for herd immunity. The longer we keep people isolated from each other, the longer this draws out. Initially we were told to stay at home for two to three weeks to flatten the curve and figure out how the virus acts. We now know it targets the elderly and compromised.

Governors who forced recovering COVID residents back into nursing homes where it spread like wildfire, causing half of the total deaths so far, should be charged with negligent homicide. It is a disgrace their forced policy killed so many of our cherished seniors. If we kept children home to prevent every cold, flu, disease, they would literally never go back to school. None of this happened with any previous coronaviruses, including swine flu, which killed 1,800 children.”
– Nancy P., Amherst

Kids struggle at home

“Yes for my sanity! In all seriousness, kids miss the interaction with friends and physically being in a different environment for learning. They struggle to find motivation when at home. But safety is a number one priority, especially with one who has a somewhat compromised immune system. I am still not sure what the best option is.”
– Amanda S., Nashua

Online not working

Keithbelanger“I want them to go back. Remote learning is not the same. I’m grateful my kid was ahead of where he was “supposed” to be, because by the end of the year, he wasn’t getting anything from watching videos and doing assignments alone. I want them to go back; but I don’t know if they should, or can.

I can only speak for my household. One-hundred percent online won’t work for my guy — not the setup we did last year. Him sitting and watching videos doesn’t work. He did well with the Zoom stuff, but not watching one-sided videos.”
– Keith B., Derry

I want to be in class

“Yes. I miss my friends, and I’m excited to be in class for particular subjects and discussions. But in-person attendance should be split in half, by last name: Monday/Tuesday is one group, Wednesday is a cleaning day, and Thursday/Friday is another group. Everyone has to wear masks and social distance. Remote on the other days for each group.”
– Autumn P., sophomore, Nashua

Should have the option

“They have to go to school, or at least have the option to go. I have teenagers who don’t require constant parental supervision. We also have a two-parent family that makes homeschooling an option; most people do not have a choice.

For example, my sister is a single mom of four children – staying home is not an option. Rent, groceries and heat are mandatory so she does not have the luxury of homeschooling. School is not just for education; it’s how Americans are able to go to work.

It would be great if individual teachers were in cohorts of 6-12 kids to minimize their risk, using municipal and community center rooms to create space for smaller, safer schooling. Transportation is a challenge as well. I wish the powers that be all the luck and wisdom they need to figure this out, but it needs to be figured out quickly. And there must be umbrella guidelines at the federal and state level for individual districts to follow.”
– Deirdre B., Derry

Categories: Education